Production notes and trivia from my experiences on comic books, fiction, and games including
Star Wars: A New DawnStar Wars: Kenobi Star Wars: Knight Errant
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tales from the Memory Bank: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement, Part 3

http://bit.ly/KOTORMarv1
In honor of the rerelease by Marvel of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comics, I'm revising and updating my production notes here on what I hope will be a weekly basis. You can get Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1 from your local comic shop, from Things from Another World or from Amazon. You can also purchase signed copies directly from my shop while supplies last.


Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #3
"COMMENCEMENT" PART 3

Art by Brian Ching
Lettered by Michael Heisler
Colored by Michael Atiyeh
Cover by Travis Charest
Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall
Released March 29, 2006 by Dark Horse Comics
Story licensed and © Lucasfilm Ltd.

As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.

Back from the detour into "Crossroads," the third issue of this storyline found us moving from Zayne's flight for survival to his fight for answers -- and brought in two new characters in the form of Jarael and Camper.

I think many comics creators find that third issues of six present some unique storytelling challenges. They are often spent in transit, getting all the pieces in place for the revelations to come in the second half -- and given their position in the events of the story, they aren't as amenable to true cliffhangers. (Having seen a lot of "false cliffhangers" in third issues, I try to either end on something real or on a joke -- here, we did both.)

In collected format, the role of third chapters changes completely, fitting in much more organically. That poses, in fact, a temptation comics creators actively have to resist -- it'd be easy to tell a 132-page story and just chop it up into comics-sized chunks without mind to where things are breaking in the serial. As a comics guy, I do work to make the story play "both ways" -- Episode V was a completed thought despite leaving almost every big issue "To Be Continued" -- but it's not always desireable to give every chapter exactly equal amounts of action, revelations, etc.

Here, chapter three very much is about getting the pieces in place for the revelations to come -- although we made sure to pause along the way for some comedy and action. Brian's Jarael is a pretty fearsome opponent!

Jarael, again, had been designed earlier by Brian Ching, and I had noted at the time that she had looked  different from other Arkanians; she had pupils, for example, as well as five fingers and elfin ears — and she also had tattoos which I had no explanation for. Further, the initial color key gave her alabaster skin, different from other Arkanians. Rather than ask for changes, I decided to figure out ways to make those differences part of the story. In fact, part of three different storylines would explain Jarael's different appearance. It's just like they say about bakers -- when making cookies, you can eat your mistakes.

Some readers noted Zayne's mood shift this issue -- from his earlier denial and despair to anger and resentment. That seemed perfectly natural to me -- especially when you've gone through what he has in the last day or so! Others immediately began talking of a Zayne/Jarael romance here -- although at this stage, the characters seemed unwilling to breathe the same air!

It was during production of this issue that we paused to do the Knights of the Old Republic/Rebellion Special, lengthening the production time, somewhat. But it still came out right on schedule, thanks to everyone involved!

I did a release-day signing of this issue at Comics and Collectibles in Memphis. It was my first shop signing associated with the series.

TRIVIA

• I was informed later that bacta, to which Gryph refers in this chapter, may not have existed in this time period -- at least under that name. Clearly, neither Gryph nor I read the book where that was established. There are a number of remedies (no pun intended) for that, including assuming that it was the coincidental name of something Mama Hierogryph used to make. Or maybe be got it from "Bacta: The Future." (Sorry, pun intended that time...)

Brian's Jarael design was so cool I worked the differences into the story
• The Rakghouls of the Undercity come directly from the first video game, of course. They would later become central to the events of "Vector," two years later.

Arkanians were one of the first ones added to the milieu by Dark Horse years earlier. The species name wasn't mentioned in this issue, but it was actually revealed back in Dark Horse's initial slide-show about the series. As a result, some readers at the time did ask about the fact that Jarael has pupils,which previously depicted Arkanians didn't.

As noted above, I came up with different explanations within the story later on -- but personally, I never tended to take the no-pupil thing quite literally whenever I saw it, but rather as an artifact of an art style that was used whenever an artist wanted to convey that a character was mysterious or powerful. I never quite fully accepted that Storm, Starfire, or Dark Phoenix literally had no pupils, just that it was a cool effect! Walt Kelly once called it the "blunked-out eye look." (Coincidentally, I dug up a 1979 cartoon for my column in 2006's Comics Buyer's Guide #1616 -- where someone did a send-up crossing over no-iris Little Orphan Annie with no-iris Phoenix. "Flamin' Annie," they called her...)

• With the mentions of Feln and Xamar, our five Masters finally had their names. I spaced them out so as not to hit everyone with a dozen names in the first issue. Feln's name was exactly two letters off from the first initials of my sister's four kids; Xamar just sounded cool.

Lhosan Industries is the company represented by the alien, Jervo, seen in #1. He would turn up later on in the second year of the series.

• Sharp readers may have noticed that Zovius Mendu was mentioned in the text page of #0!

• There's no way that the stars above Taris would be visible in the scene on the final page -- the planet's dayside is too bright -- but as most movie producers have found, it just looks odd without them!

Next week:
We head for the Rogue Moon. Or you can skip ahead and read all the notes for the series, though they're only updated up through this issue.
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